Among then many illustrious Chicago guitars stands Rico McFarland. Rico is by all accounts a highly intense yet introspective axe man who you may have recently seen playing at the side of the legendary James Cotton, and more recently on tour with Lucky Peterson. A professional player at a very early age, Rico has filled his resume touring and supporting Albert King, Otis Clay, Syl Johnson, Artie White, the Kinsey Report, Mighty Joe Young, and Sugar Blue. He has chopped as a pro for even more: Al Green, Van Morrison, The Temptations, and even the Bruce Willis Blues Band and Boyz II Men.
This is very much solo Rico on this disc despite the massive guest list. There is the crisp and sharp Westside styled guitar and punctuated phrasings from McFarland that accentuate the entire set of twelve cuts. Melvin Taylor, Chico Banks, and Carl Weathersby provide lead guitar on three tracks, and guest vocalists include Otis Clay, Syl Johnson, Billy Branch, and Teela. The basic band includes Rico on axe with vocals, Roosevelt Purifoy on the keys, Charlie Hosch on the bass, and Brady Williams on the drum kit. Add in harmonica by Sugar Blue, Billy Branch, or Dan Bellini; and the Chicago Fire Horns of Bill McFarland, Hank Ford, and Kenny Anderson. and you have most of the puzzle. The remaining pieces contributing on one track each are Sumito Ariyoshi on piano, Steve Potts on drums, and Dave Smith on the bass.
An overall stew of rock, stone-cold blues, and funky soul gives McFarland an opportunity to strut without the limits of delineations. He very smoothly switches gear into something funk-drenched, from a deep blue backdrop, and ends up in rock heaven without pause. The individual Rico, where found with a good ear, is frightfully fulfilling and a reward to decipher. The mix of covers from Howard McCullum, Ike Turner, Paul deLay, and Al Green; are charged with two of Rico's own, "Giving Me The Blues" and the title tune "Tired Of Being Alone". It is there that he stretches out with impunity and delivers the blues bacon.
This cross section slab of Chicago blues has definitely got its slivers of phatback funk and soul but it comes out atop. Rico McFarland has assembled a gang in support of his own recording much more as a tribute than for any musical need; for his blues filter through all the other great work he has provided. This disc is a fantastic collection of music that is highly recommended to all. At the same time, this listener will be waiting for more Rico.
Evidence Music; 1100 E. Hector St., Ste. 392; Conshohocken, PA 19428:
or e-mail EvidenceMusic@aol.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.